Identity Theft describes a crime in which someone “steals” identifying information, usually a social security number, from another with the intent on using it for fraudulent purposes. Victims of identity theft can be anyone of any age from anywhere, although older adults tend to be more frequent targets and are more susceptible to this crime. Seniors are the easiest targets because generally they have better credit along with more cash savings and disposable income. Many seniors are also debt free and do not check their credit reports as often, if at all. They are also more trusting, less technologically updated, and more likely to depend on others for help in managing their activities of daily living. Thus it may take senior adults much longer to realize their identities have been stolen, and it is often more difficult for this age group to find assistance once the crime has been discovered. Consequently, it is very easy for thieves to manipulate and abuse senior adults because of the lower risk of getting caught.
The impact of identity theft not only involves the immediate financial lost, but also includes the aftermath destruction of one’s good credit, significant emotional scars, and lengthy legal complications.
Here are some tips to protect the identity of our aging loved one:
-Keep his/her social security number safe. Don’t give it out unless you have to.
-Buy a shredder to destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information before
throwing it out (the increase in mail and trash theft makes this a good idea).
-Definitely check his/her Credit Report regularly.
-Ask your bank and or credit card company about their safety plans on identity theft.
Most major banks and credit card companies have some sort of protection method.
-For those who use the internet, be careful when shopping online and never give out
personal information in an e-mail, chat room, or from random phone calls.
-End pre-approved credit by calling (1-888-5OPTOUT).
Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.ftc.gov for more information.
- National Fraud Information Center: www.fraud.org/tips/telemarketing or 1-800-876-7060
- Direct Marketing Association mail preference service:
- Get your name off the pre-approved credit offer mailing lists by calling 888-5- OptOut